Back in 2013 I wrote a decent post and created a video and post outlining my SEO strategy for that year. And till this day the video is receiving comments and views resulting in people thanking me for it. But I also received a few comments asking me about an update for 2014. Like you, these people understand that a sound SEO marketing strategy takes change into account. The SEO landscape has changed considerably and your SEO strategy for 2014 needs to reflect that.
Create Epic Content
I would be doing you a great injustice if I did not start off with the topic on content on your website when creating your new SEO strategy.
The fact of the matter is that nothing else I talk about for the rest of this post is going to do you any good if you don’t create epic content as part of your SEO content strategy.
I know there are a couple people in the SEO community providing their idea of SEO tips saying that you can rank a site with a video and an image. And that all you need are high quality backlinks and you’ll be good. We will see how long that lasts.
What is the definition of epic content however?
Really, is it not true that what one person perceives as valuable information, is not even considered by another?
This could even be true when you’re targeting is spot on in your niche research.
That very fact alone could cause a lot of frustration. Just remember that you cannot please everyone, and nor should you even try. Just work to please those who will respect and value your efforts and reward your content strategy with an investment in your business.
There are some key elements that you do have to address in your content however, that will please both your readers (the most important part of SEO) and the search engines when executing your SEO strategy.
1) If you want to ensure that your content stays on the top of the search engines make sure you’re providing value.
What I mean by that is, your content needs to be good enough to keep your readers on you site. It would be even better if it had them clicking around your site and viewing your other content as well.
Don’t be satisfied with writing an article or creating a video that results in your visitor clicking away to an affiliate product for example. You want them reading, interacting, commenting, and sharing your content as well.
2) You’re going to have to play with the Panda these days. After years and years of people creating content over and over again one thing that Google has noticed is that the information is just a rehash of stuff across the net.
Worse yet was the days of article marketing that turned into a spam fest for people trying to game the algorithm. And that game worked very well in its day.
But what Google noticed is that some people had an SEO strategy that involved creating three to five hundred word articles and posting them everywhere possible.
Panda was designed to combat that.
Today, in 2014, your SEO strategy has to include long content. Tests show on sites that have been rewarded by Panda, or recovered from it, that content over 2000 words is being looked at as more authoritative then the shorter articles.
Longer is better.
This will not only make your website look more authoritative on a subject. But it will also allow you to be ranked for even more when implementing your keyword strategy. Imagine that, multiple listings for one piece of content, talk about maximizing your marketing efforts.
3) Maximize the use of images. Right now I have access to a large group of test sites across the web. Most of these sites are owned by some of the leading professionals in the SEO industry and their data tells us that the more related images the better.
Now don’t go out and put 15 images on your page with the same rel=alt text. That is not what I am saying.
But break up your long articles into sections.
This will make it easier for your readers to digest your information and make your content look less daunting. After all, you can only read so many blog in a day before you end up on Facebook checking out the latest drama that is going on in people’s lives.
4) Work to improve your bounce rate.
I know it’s easier said than done.
If you look into your Google Analytics (or whatever your using, I prefer Clicky) and it shows that your bounce rate is above 55%, you’re doing something wrong.
Be it you’re targeting the wrong person to bring to your website, or you’re not providing the value in your content that you should be.
Look at the pages that have the highest bounce rates and examine what you can do to improve the content.
Perhaps even create a video to supplement it, people watching videos is one of the best things that I did to improve mine.
There are a few more aspects of on page SEO that you need to address, like page speed etc. I detailed most of those on another post that you can review at your leisure.
The point here is that Google and Bing are now looking at the value you provide. Provide better value through your content and then everything else will fall in line.
I can hear you asking the question, where do I get ideas to write better content that people will actually want to read?
You are definitely in the right place.
Watch Industry Forums
I have no doubt that this is not the first time that you have been told to check out the forums in your industry. I also have no doubt that you have been told to sign up, provide value, and interact. It’s a great piece of advice, but what if you’re new to a niche. How is that supposed to help your SEO strategy if your just learning yourself and do not know what people in it find valuable.
The first thing you need to do is find them. You have two options here.
One, you can just ask somebody who is already in the market.
People love to talk about their favorite sites and will gladly tell you.
The other way is to use Google to tell you the ones that it find authoritative.
You can just do a plain search for “keyword” forum and you will probably find a couple. The problem doing that is that you’re going to have to sift through the listings to find them.
What I found to be the best way to go forum hunting is to use this simple syntax in the search bar to find them.
“keyword” forum site:.gov This searches for .gov type forums that contains your specified keyword.
“keyword” forum site:.com This searches for .com type forums that contains your specified keyword.
Using one or both of these strings will bring you plenty of places to do content research. You can also check for .net or .org if you’re adventurous but really both of these should serve you well.
Notice I didn’t say anything about going in and posting stuff. That will come in later as you get your system down and have more time.
For now we are going to focus on your site.
The next step is to find out if you have to register or not to read the content.
In most cases the answer is no, but there are forum owners out there that limit the amount of threads you can view. It’s not a show stopper though, you can do your research without it.
Let’s say you are creating content in the weight loss niche.
First we find our forum.
Then we look at the threads that are there.
What you’re looking for is the most recent threads. There is no sense in writing about a topic that has died off at this point. But (there is always a “but”) there is nothing that says you can’t revive a topic from a year ago, in your readers eyes it may be the first time they’ve seen it.
Looking at the most recent threads find the two or three that have generated the most comments. This shows you the stuff your market is talking about today.
Read over the main post, take note of the title. Copy the title down, it worked in a forum, it’s going to work on your site.
Then examine what the commenters are saying.
Now all you have to do is take the premise of the original post and comments to create your unique content expressing your own point of view on the subject.
Controversial stances work in this instance very well.
Also playing devil’s advocate while detailing both sides of an argument work great and can possibly generate a lot of comments on your site.
Watch Industry Competitors
There are four ways you do this.
Before I get in to it though I want to tell you why.
Right now you’re most likely at the beginning stages of your marketing. What I mean by that is you have a following but it’s probably not as big as you like. And people respect your opinion, but you’re not quite the go to person.
These people have already done the hard work for you. They know what your market is looking for at that particular moment in time.
After you follow them enough, you’ll learn their topics are almost in line with each other as well. So you need to be following them so you can piggyback off their content.
Meaning, if you’re in the fashion market and they are talking about an upcoming fashion show, you better be too. If you are in copy writing and they are talking about writing headlines, so should you. They have a larger audience, for now, they know what information their audience wants. Leverage that.
Method one to getting this is to find their websites and follow their RSS feeds using a reader.
Method two is to use Google Alerts. Using this allows you to get more than just the leaders but you can identify trends in your market rather quickly.
Method three is to use TalkWalker. It’s the same as Google Alerts, just another way of getting the information.
Method four is a bit more complicated but I know that for me, its probably the best way to watch industry competitors. There are some cool tools that you will need to learn, but once you figure them out you will find so many more uses for them all. (click the link right there to learn that method, it really is pretty cool)
Play around with each one and find the one you’re comfortable with. I have tried all four and each has their ups and downs.
The content and ideas you find here will be valuable later in the other steps of your new SEO strategy.
Interview an Influencer
This one can actually be tricky.
People loved to be interviewed. I think it’s in our DNA to feel like we are wanted. Here is your opportunity to capitalize on that.
You’re going to have to do some outreach here.
I would suggest finding a list of ten influencers in your market and emailing them with the request.
Do not ask for anything in return! This method can back fire in a heartbeat, take a look at this reaction to someone who asked.
The people you are contacting are not stupid, they know you want something from them. But you don’t have to be pushy about it.
Once your interview is live on your site, just let them know it’s up. If they enjoyed the experience of working with you during the interview, they will link to it. And more importantly they’ll share it on their social sites and perhaps email it to their list.
The only other way to get that kind of exposure is to pay for it.
Pro Tip: Prepare a list of questions before your interview so the person you’re doing it with will have time to prepare. Also, when doing the interview be part of the conversation. They can answer these questions on their own sites if they wanted to just have a one way conversation. Interact, counterpoint, just don’t be an interviewer, be a participant.
I use content curation as a last resort when I just cannot seem to find anything interesting to write about.
The concept really is simple.
When you are doing your competitor research bookmark five to ten great articles that you found and really enjoyed.
Chances are that if you liked them, so will your readers.
Then create a unique article outlining each of the articles. This really is the fastest way to pump out content.
Pro Tip: After you write up and post your summation of the content, go to the original site and let the owner know you linked to him in a roll-up. This will get a relationship building that may eventually lead to a link to your site.
Next we move on to promotion of your content!
Link Building with Promotion
Matt Cutt’s recently created this video on guest blogging that sent people into the “SEO is dead” uproar again. Now if you notice Cutt’s doesn’t say that you can’t have guest blogging as part of your SEO strategy.
What he said was that guest blogging solely for the purpose of link building is a no no. He also said to abuse the method.
That means if your guest posting on reputable sites within your market you’re ok.
Just don’t go out there and post your content on an un-moderated website.
Remember article directories for the most part were un-moderated. Some were de-indexed and most if not all have significantly less traffic today because of Panda.
Those people who are allowing their sites become content farms will soon join them.
Keep your SEO strategy directly in line with the goal of providing value through high quality content on related sites within your niche.
It should be hard to get a guest post up. If it’s easy, look somewhere else.
Here are some search stings to find sites where you may be able to submit content:
“keyword” “guest blogger”
“keyword” “become a contributor”
“keyword” “write for us”
Pro tip: Write your content before you do your outreach. One nice post should do it. Then contact ten site owners and let them know the title and brief summary of the article. But don’t use the article on more than one site. Let the people you’re talking with know that you’re only using it their site. Unique high quality content with your contextual link inside.
Love them or hate them Infographics are a great link bait tool to use.
The cool part is that you don’t even have to make them yourself, although having a couple made over time will benefit even more.
I have uploaded several to this site and traffic they generate through a little promotion is awesome.
Here are a couple resources to find them:
Now here is how to do it and not make Google mad.
Don’t use the embed code provided by a lot of people. It puts a link to their site on your blog which could harm you if you do it all the time.
What I do is “right click” and “save image as” every time.
I don’t alter the info graphic one bit.
The branding is there and if your readers want to know more about the site that created it, they can simple go to the site themselves.
I recommend you don’t offer the embed code yourself either.
Google is cracking down on the infographic links because the embed codes are all rel=dofollow and your somehow evil for allowing people to share your stuff on their site. It is what it is, when you promote with social media though, these Infographics will draw a lot of attention.
Social Media Promotion
There has been a lot of talk in the SEO community lately about social signals, like they are something new.
But if you have been following me for any period of time you will know that I was telling people they need to create a social SEO strategy to promote their sites. And now others are finally catching up.
But you have to know that there is only a correlation between your social signals versus a causation.
What I mean is that there is actually no definitive proof that social signals will help you gain rankings. But there is natural side effect of social signals that actually does.
Here is Matt Cutt’s discussing the relationship of the signals to your SEO strategy:
Notice he said correlation, so it begs the question to be asked, then why bother?
Promotion of course!
And if your content is epic then all the traffic you drive via a social media startegy will indeed turn into not only links, but increased traffic.
As a result of this increased traffic Google will identify your site as popular, and as a result give you a higher authority score.
So you see, your increased social promotion and syndication causes higher ranking through natural link building as a result of your efforts.
I highly, highly recommend that you start promoting your websites on Google+. Don’t buy into the hype that it’s a dead network. It is anything but.
Create a page there as well as your own profile so you can take advantage of authorship and publisher status within the community as well as in the search results.
I said it last year that people should not ignore Facebook pages and groups and I was right. I’m right about Google+, get yourself over there now and start learning how to Google+.
Also make sure that you are still using Facebook, LinkedIN, Twitter, and Pinterest. I also use StumbleUpon but I had to delete and create a new account but that story is for another day.
Audio Sharing Sites
Have you ever been told that you should repurpose your content?
Well, if you haven’t you really should.
Why write out an epic piece of content and not take advantage of that.
Record a video of you going over the topic in your post.
Record audio of your reading your post.
Then syndicate it to several different audio sites to reach more people.
It’s really not all that much work and once you get used to doing it you’ll might actually have some fun. Especially when you turn it into a podcast and iTunes starts sending you traffic, for free.
Here is the tool I use to create my audio: Audacity
Make sure you fill out the audio description completely, don’t make is sound like an ad. And enter your link. Many of these sites have a very high authority and the link juice is awesome.
Here are some sites where you can upload it.
And if you want to turn it into a podcast as well, use this plugin on your site: PowerPress
That plugin integrates nicely with the iTunes store by the way, making submission to them a 20 minute one time process.
Pro Tip: Turn your video’s into podcasts as well. Get a transcription service like Rev.com to write out the conversation. Post that under your video on your site. Create a timeline on the page as well telling people where the conversation is going. You will be surprised who will listen to an hour long show just to hear about a topic you talk about at minute 35.
Now that you have promoted your content, lets talk about building links with other people’s help!
Link Building with Outreach
If you own a blog right now you know that there are still people that use this method to build backlinks. And you also know there are some who love to just throw out random garbage comments in the hopes that you don’t moderate your site and they will get a backlink.
Well, those tactics usually result in a link when you find a lazy webmaster. That’s why people still do them. It’s really the nature of being online. Every website has to deal with one way or another. Don’t get mad about, just delete them and move on.
You however are even smarter than they are.
Because you are becoming part of the conversation.
You are actually reading content and leaving intelligent comments on sites that are related to yours.
I recommend that every day you find 10 website’s to comment on.
The SEO in me says that the pages you comment on should not only be related to your topic. But look at their metrics as well. What is their PageRank, what is their authority? Even no follow links (which most responsible website owners have their comments set to) will count.
The promoter in me says this allows you to get your face seen in the marketplace. It works to help establish your authority. And makes your outreach that much easier when you want to start interviewing people or offering guest posts.
So comment away, it won’t take that much time, and you’ll see the benefits down the road sooner rather than later.
If you recall in the content curation section I talked about finding interesting posts from the day or week and creating a roll-up of those sites.
In this case however, you’re going to actually make an argument about a specific topic.
For example, let’s take the “guest blogging is dead” topic.
Now what you do is find three to five articles that argue that that statement is in fact true.
Then you find the same amount that argue that it’s not.
This is where you’re going to need Diigo (get that here).
Taking Diigo save some keep points in all the pieces that allow you to essentially create a virtual argument on your site. This is really easy because their browser tool actually allows you to save highlighted text rather than saving whole web pages to have to go back to. Think of it as your ultimate note pad.
I.E. Against) Person A says guest blogging is just a new name for article marketing but person B For) says guest blogging has been and will always be a viable way to get high quality links and should remain a part of your SEO strategy for 2014. At this point you provide your point of view.
These are really easy posts to write and they allow you to position yourself as an authority in your market.
Pro Tip: Make sure the resource site you collect don’t link to each other in any way. You can even go the extra step and search their Facebook profiles to see if they know each other. Then contact them all and tell them about your post. Detail the other writers you cited and their opposing opinions on the matter. Then just provide them the link to your post. Don’t ask for anything, just let them decide what to do with it. At the very least you’re going to get them to comment on your site. At the most they may just link back to you from their site telling their readers they should check you out.
Broken Link Building
This part of your SEO strategy is going to need its own post to show you just how to get it done but I’ll give you the highlights.
Let’s say that a real popular blogger in your niche wrote an article back in the middle of last year. Its old content on his site and it also happens to have a high PageRank and Page Authority.
What you are going to do it look on his site for dead links.
When you find one, go back to your website and create a post for the purpose of replacing that dead link.
Then, email said site owner and let them know:
Hey Mr. X,
I was visiting your website and searching around reading some of the great content you provided.
I particularly enjoyed “The Title of a Post” where you discussed how to knit a sweater. I also enjoyed “The Article You Found the Broken Link On”.
My key take away there was blah blah blah.
After reading it inspired me to learn more about the topic so I click on some of the links inside.
To my disappointment this link located in paragraph x/sentence y was dead, (insert dead link here).
I happen to have a piece on my site that covers the exact same topic in detail here: (insert your link here).
Review it and it you feel your readers would benefit from it, it would be my honor if you linked to it in place of the dead link.
Not every site owner will change the link. Not every site owner will even read your email, but if you hit ten of these a day and only get one or two links it makes your link building a whole lot easier.
Time to discover some methods to build your own links!
Link Building on Your Own
Google’s Webmaster Guidelines state that building links to your site is against their terms of service “blah blah blah”. But let’s join the real world shall we. If you are going to compete in the search engines for the most targeted and pre-qualified traffic there is, you are going to have to build links to your site.
That being said though the days of creating hundreds, or even thousands, of links is really over. Today, because your competition is still struggling from Penguin, all you need are high quality links.
All of the methods that I provided you up to this point will generate natural links to your website all on their own.
Sure a couple will require a bit more involvement on your part, but for the most part the promotion you have done to this point will generate you a nice link profile.
However, if you are in a competitive marketing, your SEO strategy has to include building backlinks to your site.
Remember, Google does not owe you anything, and you don’t owe Google anything.
You about to read about four methods that if used correctly could have a very positive effect on your website as a whole and individual page rankings.
If used incorrectly or without any caution however, you will kill your website in the search engines.
With that being said, if you chose to employ them only use them on your “Parasite sites”.
Pro Tip: “Parasite sites” create a buffer between your link building tests and your website. If you do something wrong or get carried away the parasite property is penalized. All you need to do is remove the links from your site and create another one.
Here is an illustration of how it looks:
Your other link building methods from outreach and natural sharing of your content will do fine for you main site.
You can create these sites using Web 2.0 sites or even press releases. Remember, these domains are already considered authority sites and can take a lot more backlinks.
You then backlink these properties and raise their PageRank and Page Authority which is then passed on to yours.
Again, this is really a topic for an entire post so make sure you subscribe so you can see the whole process in action.
Using Automated Software in Your SEO Strategy – A Brief Warning
Let me make sure that you understand where I stand on automated link building.
The fact of the matter is each and every one of these pieces of software still work very, very well in a well planned and executed SEO strategy for 2014.
I know of several marketers who are bringing in six figures a year using the three tools I outline below.
But you know yourself better than I do.
If you can’t, or are not willing, to learn how to use them in a safe and responsible manner, skip to the PBN section.
And never outsource work done with these tools unless you trust the person running them for you. I cannot tell you how many sites I have done backlink analysis for and the owner was shock after I explained to them what I discovered because of the irresponsible way these tools were used.
I am not telling you this to scare you away from, just making sure you know they are powerful enough to do good and bad.
This is considered the premier SEO automation software out today. And it also comes at a premier price.
But if you can afford to get it, it definitely is a great tool to use in your arsenal.
With is you can create your “Parasite Sites” in a breeze and build a quality link profile.
Here is a video detailing what it does:
Here the ink to the free trial: Free 14 Day Trial
GSA Search Engine Ranker
This piece of software is relatively new on the market. The learning curve is a bit steep and the documentation with it shows how to use it, but not how to use it safely.
I recommend this one only if you’ve used Magic Submitter or SENukeXcr. Otherwise you’re going to have to get a coach to teach you the best way ahead with it.
The only disadvantage that I have found is that if you are in a small niche, you’re going to need a list of sites to post on. Otherwise it’s really slow.
Here is a video on its use in a Panda/Penguin safe way:
Here is a link to download the software, it’s a free trial: GSA Search Engine Ranker
Here is the link to the captcha breaking software, also a free trial: GSA Captcha Breaker
As learning curves goes this is the easiest software to use.
Their training is great, and there is an option to join a group to get more tactics on how to use it responsibly. This software alone is making people thousand in the local marketing space.
Here is a video reviewing it:
Here is a link to a free trial:
Finally the last piece of your SEO Strategy for 2014. And this one is awesome.
Create your own private blog network.
I know, I know, Google is banning public blog networks left and right. But there is a key term in there you probably picked up on, “public”.
I feel that if you go the trouble of creating a blog network to dominate your competition in any market that you get involved in, keep your mouth shut. Don’t even tell your mother.
Not because it’s some “black hat” technique, but so you can protect it.
The beauty of having your own network is that you’re creating the content for them. So you know for a fact that everything is directly related to your website.
You also control the links on those sites so Google doesn’t lump them up with the rest of the spam out there.
Make a commitment to yourself to learn how to create a PBN quickly and with little costs. Your website, your sanity, and your pocketbook will thank you for adding this to your SEO strategy.
When I created what I thought was the best SEO strategy for last year, I did so knowing that it was very heavy on social media.
Back then people were discounting what I was saying because they didn’t believe that social was going to be an important part of SEO.
Well who’s laughing now?
Keeping in mind that social media “causes” higher rankings because you are using the platforms to promote your content, not to build links.
The link building is the natural byproduct of your content getting shared, because you took the time to create epic f#*king content (in the words of Rae Hoffman).
Your 2014 SEO Strategy needs to take into account automated link building tools and their place in your marketing.
As well as starting to build your own powerful private blog network.
The key point of every link building method you about to embark on for you SEO strategy is that you have to take your fear of outreach and let it go.
Talk to other site owners and start establishing a relationship with them. Even if your only goal is to generate new content, traffic, and links. This will be your number one effort.
Gone are the days of reckless abandon with your link building campaign, welcome to the new SEO strategy for 2014. PROMOTION, PROMOTION, PROMOTION = high quality links and higher rankings and traffic.